Look in the mirror and you'll see this...
It's a shame that so many people I talk to are quick to mention other people when asked what exerts the biggest influence on their happiness.
Yes, some people bring us great joy -- our parents, spouse, children, closest friends -- but they should not bear the responsibility of making you happy all the time. Parents grow old, our spouses have their own issues to worry about, our children grow up eventually, and our friends can always drift away from us.
No one has your best interests at heart more than yourself. No one confides in you more than yourself. No one experiences the highs and lows in your life like you do.
Happiness shouldn't depend on how people treat you or what they think of you. In fact, in my view, you can't love others unless and until you love yourself first.
We all want to feel loved and accepted by others. Great social relationships, in and of themselves, can enhance and make our lives a whole lot easier. Who wouldn't like the doting aunt who compliments you all the time or that reliable friend who's there for you when you're in a bind?
At the same time, relationships can take a decidedly different turn. There's a reason we don't keep the same friends and remain close with all our friends as we get older.
As I've noted in other posts, we can attribute that to a bevy of factors including distance, shifting priorities, and huge lifestyle changes. But in many cases, the relationship fizzles out because people change and stop investing time and effort in them.
I think society tends to oversell the importance of being accepted by others and undersell the value of being happy with yourself -- with your choices, interests, and values.
It's a whole lot easier to make yourself happy than it is to make everyone in your social circle happy. Sooner or later, something you do (or don't do) will rub someone the wrong way.
If you spend your whole life acceding to other's wishes and demands, that is no way to live.
Let yourself be happy. Be selfish once in a while. Discover what it is that drives you -- what makes you feel alive -- and pursue it with unrelenting passion.
In sum, people can make us happy, but ultimately, they can't fulfill us -- they can't make our lives feel whole. Only we can do that.
And never let anyone force you to change anything about yourself unless you really want to deep down. There's no better feeling in life than loving and appreciating yourself for who you are.